Councilman addresses town-gown relations

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September 25, 2009

2:59 AM

Williamsburg City Council member Bobby Braxton visited the College of William and Mary Wednesday night to answer student questions about town-gown relations, ranging from parking problems to the three-person rule controversy. Approximately 20 students attended the fourth part of the “Better Know Your Council Member” series organized by Students for a Better Williamsburg.

“The first thing that people asked is if I had heard about the student problem,” Braxton said. “I said, ‘what student problem? I don’t know if it’s that much of a problem.’”

Shortly after he was elected, Braxton toured the College campus for the first time and was drawn to the College community.

“The City Council is about helping the people in the city, and who’s in the city? You all,” he said.

The main focus of the evening’s discussion was on the proposed change to the three-person rule, which would have allowed four people to live in a minimum 2,000 square-foot residence with annual inspections.

“I would go for the four-person rule if it had adequate housing and inspections,” Braxton said.

The Williamsburg Planning Commission unanimously decided against recommending the proposal two days later.

He also spoke of discussions between the College and Williamsburg to allot 200 to 250 slots for student residents on Richmond Road.

“We do not have land, and everything we do must go through residents,” he said.

An Evening with Bobby Braxton from Flat Hat on Vimeo.

Braxton was positive about the parking issue on and around campus, which is also a city planning concern for Williamsburg. He said city parking fines are lower than campus ones and that 60 student spaces are now available in the Prince George Parking Garage.

Students must register through the city for a garage parking pass, which costs $250 per semester and is more expensive than on-campus resident parking.

With the state gubernatorial election coming up, student voter registration was another important issue addressed at the event.

Braxton, who experienced harassment when trying to vote and participated in sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement, emphasized voter registration.

“If you know a kid over 18, tell them to go over there and register to vote, and you can quote me on that,” he said.

Born in Williamsburg, Braxton attended Bruton Heights School and has an electronics degree from the Hampton Institute, now known as Hampton University. He was elected to the Williamsburg City Council in 2006.

While he is not sure if he will run for re-election in May, Braxton is open to talk to any student about current city problems at his morning office hours in Aromas Cafe or at his personal residence near campus.

“[My house] has a stoop. I’ll tell any William and Mary student to come visit.”

Students for a Better Williamsburg is sponsoring an event, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 11, with Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler on campus.

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